It might not be 90 degrees where you live, but summer has begun just the same. This weekend's release of ''X2: X-Men United'' officially signals the start of the blockbuster season, and it'll be a biggie.
Three years ago, the first ''X-Men'' debuted with $54.5 million, which amounted to an amazing 35 percent of its total $157.3 million gross. With the entire cast returning (including Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) -- plus unanimous buzz that the sequel is better than the original AND has a much bigger theater count (3,700 sites as opposed to 3,000 for the first film) -- ''X2'' could very well become one of the top 10 openers of all time with a $70 million debut.
The only person with the guts to open against the X-Men is that lovable Disney Channel heroine Lizzie McGuire (played by Hilary Duff), who premieres her first film, ''The Lizzie McGuire Movie.'' Duff has a huge fan base of tween girls, who probably couldn't care less about ''X2.'' So ''Lizzie'' should benefit from the increased multiplex traffic and score a $17 million debut for the second spot.
Last week's top two films will battle for No. 3. The John Cusack thriller ''Identity'' will likely fall 40 percent from its $16.2 million debut to about $10 million, while Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson's hit comedy ''Anger Management'' will also land in the $10 million range, down 35 percent from last week.
Rounding out the top five, the family flick ''Holes'' should slip 30 percent to about $9 million. If only those kids had Wolverine's claws...